There's no shortage of good information on the internet on how to use Amazon Web Services (AWS). Whether you're looking for ways to supplement your certification study efforts or just want to know what the heck it's all about, check out this compilation of free training and resources on all things AWS.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) training
The best place to find free AWS training is on the AWS Training and Certification website. Amazon also offers nearly 350 topics in the form of free instructional digital training. Each item describes an AWS cloud topic and then lets participants tackle a hands-on lab for practice to reinforce what they've learned.
These topics range in coverage, including computer, storage, databases, networking and content delivery, security and identity, analytics, plus deployment and management, among others. AWS also offers free digital exam readiness courses and numerous machine learning opportunities. There are even 20-plus instructor-led classes, but those will cost you.
Job Roles in the Cloud runs for 30 minutes and covers job roles for AWS Cloud environments. Big Data Technology Fundamentals, a 90-minute course, addresses Hadoop, MapReduce, HDFS, Pig and Hive. AWS Security Fundamentals is a four-hour course geared toward business and technical users that covers cloud computing basics and AWS security concepts. All three online courses are self-paced.
AWS Free Tier
For more opportunities to learn how AWS components work, sign up for the AWS Free Tier. For a year, you can play with Amazon EC2 (for compute), Amazon S3 (for storage), Amazon RDS (for relational database), AWS IoT (to connect Internet of Things devices to the cloud), the Amazon EC2 Container Registry (to store and retrieve Docker images) and more.
Each AWS component has processing or capacity limits, such as 750 hours per month for instances of Linux and another 750 for Windows in Amazon EC2. You need to sign up for an AWS account. The company requires that you enter credit card information, but you're not charged for anything unless you exceed those time limits during the free subscription period.
Coursera offers online courses from universities and organizations around the world. Their free versions give you access to video lectures and some assignments. If you pay for a course, you get access to all content and features as well as a certificate of completion.
Searching for AWS in the Coursera course catalog returned 14 hits at press time, including Essential Cloud Infrastructure, Communicating Data Science Results, Cloud Computing Security, and IoT (internet of things) Wireless and Cloud Computing Emerging Technologies. But none of these current courses teach you about AWS in detail. Rather, you must either use AWS as the technology tool for the course you're taking or learn about AWS alongside other, competing services.
Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA)
Microsoft has its own cloud service – Azure – so you'll find Azure-related offerings in the Microsoft Virtual Academy. One thing about cloud services though, they need to work with one another to appeal to cloud administrators. The Migrating VMs from Amazon AWS to Microsoft Azure video is about 25 minutes long and covers preparation, exporting and converting. Related courses include Preparing for Migration from Amazon AWS to Azure and Exporting and Converting VMs from Amazon AWS. Because MVA adds courses regularly, go to the main MVA webpage and search for AWS.
Udemy offers courses that are so inexpensive that many are nearly free, and the company regularly offers discounts on some of its higher-cost courses. Others are absolutely free (no-charge) courses. For example, AWS learners can take the Cloud Computing with Amazon Web Services course, which encompasses 30 bite-size lectures that take a total of three hours to complete. At present, Udemy offers almost 800 free or low-cost AWS-related courses.
You can find meaty training opportunities on YouTube. Here are a few of our AWS-flavored favorites:
- Amazon Web Services channel: This is the same free AWS introductory video and lab combos mentioned previously.
- Cloud Computing with AWS: This highly rated video by Edureka covers cloud computing fundamentals, cloud deployment and delivery models aimed at beginners. The latter part of the video focuses on AWS and use cases. At four hours, it's longer than most.
- Simplilearn Channel for AWS: Simplilearn has a long list of training videos and webinars on cloud computing in general, and AWS in particular.
- AWS (Amazon Web Services) Introduction: Eli the Computer Guy brings you the basics of AWS, IaaS and compute in just less than an hour.
- AWS Tutorial Series: AWS Tutorial Series provides tutorials with a focus on working with multiple services and linking said services together.
- AWS Online Tech Talks: Led by AWS engineers and solution architects, AWS Online Tech Talks are live technical deep dives, customer examples, demonstrations and more.
Free trials and test drives
Several online training companies that charge for their courses also let customers sign up for a free trial to decide if it's worth it to pay for courses. Here are a few to consider:
AWS Test Drive sandboxes give you the chance to explore several server-based solutions from AWS partners. There are Test Drives for big data, security, storage, DevOps and a bunch more technologies and services. Each sandbox is a preconfigured virtual environment, and you get step-by-step instructions and video.
AWS offers a library of whitepapers that provides background on AWS services, tips on adopting services, best practices, and guidance for architecting solutions, and calculations for determining ROI and TCO. All whitepapers are available in PDF and Kindle formats.
The Open Guide to Amazon Web Services on GitHub is full of practical information, best practices and tips written by engineers who use AWS. Be aware that the guide is in draft form as of the date this article was written, but it's already lengthy and covers general AWS information, learning and career development (like certifications), AWS management, and server and application management. Another good GitHub offering is a comprehensive list of AWS resources to help candidates prepare for the AWS certifications.
The AWS Blog, which is actually several blogs on various AWS components, is rife with great how-to information on using AWS. For example, the AWS Compute blog zeroes in federation, identity and access management (IAM) roles, Kubernetes clusters and more. There are also blogs on AWS architecture, big data, security, mobile development and databases, to name just a few topics. Be sure to check out All Things Distributed, which is Amazon CTO Werner Vogels' blog on building scalable and robust distributed systems.
RightBrain Networks is a consulting group and AWS partner. It offers cloud strategy, software development, managed services and training (for a fee). A terrific free resource is the company's blog, which includes lots of relevant information on cloud computing of all flavors as well as tips for taking AWS certification exams. To see only AWS posts, click Amazon Web Services (AWS) under Categories in the right pane. You should also browse the CloudThat blog on AWS for similar information.
There's a lifetime's supply of AWS information, training and certification prep stuff just waiting for you to dig into it. Because such a large portion of it is free, you can get a pretty good head start on AWS before you have to part with any of your hard-earned cash.